A Randomly Selected Newspaper Headline:

The following is a randomly selected newspaper headline from many years ago:

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I have also added a separate page to the blog for the Tower of Magic with a brief summary of all the rooms of the ToM in the one spot. The link is just below this and above the main body of the blog, or you can just click here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Light and Dark

Now that I've finally installed all the lights in the castle, I thought I ought to give them a test.  First I discovered that I was short one three recepticle extension, therefore the light in the Crypt, Grotto and one at the rear of the armoury have no where to connect (thus can't be turned on) until a new extension arrives in the mail.  Of the lights that I could turn on, many needed the bulbs twisting in their sockets before they worked, but with a little fiddling work they all did except for the candle sconce mounted in the centre of the shelves in the Magician's Cave.  No amount of twisting, fiddling or re-wiring the plug would make this come on.  Not even the Sorceress had a spell to light it up.  I have this bad feeling I'll need to pull it out and start again.

I waited until after dark to turn the lights on again to take photos.   Not only was the Cave Shelf light still not cooperating, the wall sconce by the door in the cave had now stopped working.  This too refused to turn back on when the bulbs were adjusted.  Next I noticed that teh bulb in the fireplace of the Hall was out too.  Both these and the Cave Shelf light are all connected to one three recepticle extension.  Could it be that the fault in the Cave Shelf light caused the whole extension to blow?  I don't know yet, but I have a feeling I'll be swapping some very unsavoury words with the lights, wires and extensions before I get all the lights working properly.

In the Gallery, the railing has been painted, sanded, painted, sanded, painted . . . I'm still not particularly happy with the finish, it still looks rough, but at least it's now the right white to match the Hall below.

 I forgot to take a picture of the new pelment in the Solar, but you can see some of it in this view of the lights.  It's just a strip of card covered in the curtain fabric.  Glued behind this so it extends below the card is a length of fancy wood trim painted blue to match the walls.

While working with fabric, I made the last bedcurtain for the foot end of the side of the bed.  I was right; the bed looks much better with this in place.  I didn't have enough fabric left to make the curtain the right way around, buy luckily, the pleating conceals the fact that the pattern on this curtain is running sideways.

Rather than try to conceal the rather noticable patch in the roof of the castle where the courtyard had previously been open to the sky, I covered it up with a pediment.  The pediment was made from a single piece of thick balsa wood and carefully carved into shape.  It makes an open fronted box look a little more like a proper castle.

 The rest of the time this week has been spent in the Armoury.  Aside from the ceiling which needs the big bugle taking out of it, this room is now almost finished.  The sword stand bought on ebay occupies the centre of the floor while a variety of pole weapons (spears) taken out of the castle prior to the renovation process have returned to line the right wall.  

Swords from the original pre-renovation sword stand are now in a wall mounted rack on the left.  Shields made by Nickycc adorn the walls on both sides.  The suit of armour came out of the pre-renovation castle.

 After all these years, poor young Alwyn is still stuck in the armoury sat on the bottom step polisning the same sword.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sidetracked . . . .

You're probably expecting to see the Gallery railing finished off, the plement up in the Solar, the wardrobe cupboard painted and much more done this week.  Well, none of that has been done.  Instead I got a little bit sidetracked this week.

Firstly, I threw together this vignette/scene:

It is a get well present for my Grandma who recently fell and broke her leg.  The front panel is a 8" x 11" picture frame, the box behind it was made of mountboard and is 8.5cm deep.  I plundered the Georgian house (which is next in line for renovations) for the dress, wig and some of the items on the dressing table.  Everything else in the scene was made from stuff that I had on hand.  Unfortunately, the curtains seem to be exploding in slow motion; I guess I didn't use enought starch or just simply the wrong fabric, but it was all I had that really worked OK with the wallpaper.

When not working on the Vignette I did make a little something for the castle.  Not what I should have been making at this point in the renovation but I had this flash of inspiriation and decided to go with it while the pot was boiling.

This lady as yet has no name so I'm just calling her the "Sorceress of Dawncrest" at the moment.  She started out as a nude, bald Heidi Ott doll.

I dressed her in silk dupion; an undergown in a sort of mushroom/mauve tone and an overdress in purple.

She wears gloves of black net that hook over the middle finger of each hand.  Her headress is a brass ring covered in matching fabric and silver braid from which four drops of crystal beads hang.

Her hair is viscose wigging.  She holds a 'crystal' ball aloft in her left hand.

To aid in her spell casting, I made her a book rest.  The base of the bookrest is a cheap dragon ornament.  A piece of balsa wood rests on his wingtips, spine and two small plastic chess pawns positioned on his 'hands'.  He was painted in shades of grey to match the stone in the Magiacian's Cave.  The jewel under his foot came with the dragon.

Have you noticed the rocket like object in the Grotto?  It's a cheap key chain that I found in a local store.  If you twist the base, it turns on a light that cycles through a rainbow of colours and casts the most wonderfully magical effect around the cave.

I love the effect it creates (and it will be great if the castle residents ever decide to hold a disco).   I just need to figure out how to make it not look like a rocket while still leaving the base free to twist to turn on and off.

Meanwhile higher up in the castle, Dan seems to have the impression that just because I'm not working on it, I'm not paying attention to what goes on up there.   He snuck over to the Georgian house when I was raiding it for the Vignette and brought one of it's residents back to the castle.  I'm sure I don't know why Dan bypassed all the fine ladies in their fancy gowns to go straight for the lady still in her underwear.

 Thank goodness Gil is there to chaperone.  Oh wait, is that a love ballard he's playing on his lute?  Maybe leaving a minstrel as a chaperone wasn't a good idea after all . . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It Doesn't Match . . . .

One of these rooms just doesn't belong.  Take a look at the castle and tell me which room looks out of place:

It's the Gallery, isn't it?  All the other rooms have soft, pastel like colours while the Gallery is more bold in it's colours.  The newly made railing does knock back the burgundy on the lower wall but the strong yellow of the Tudor Frieze on top . . . .It just doesn't go anymore.  The problem is that I really like it and want to keep it.  What do I do? 

Well, for the moment I'm just ignoring the issue and forging on ahead regardless.  The ceiling of the Gallery has been covered with a sheet of 'tin ceiling'painted white with gold rub on paint to highlight the pattern.  The railing has been made from prepurchased posts which support lengths of balsa wood which have had arches cut out of the bottom.  At the moment it's just spray painted white and still needs a little sanding and finishing and painting the same soft white as featured in the Hall below.

Adding the railing to the cut out in the Solar wall dramatically changed the look of this room.  All of a sudden the room started making sense.  Finally, the Bespaq chaise looked like it was in the right spot where without the railing it looked all wrong.  So continuing the campagin to ignore the Gallery's issues, I made some curtains from the same fabric as used on the bed upstairs to cover the doorway between the Solar and the Gallery and block the view into the problem zone.  I make curtains by the pin and starch method.  It involves cutting the fabric to length and pinning it out on a piece of foam so that it has nice even pleats, then saturating it with spray starch although some people use hairspray instead.  Once dry the fabric will hold the pleats.  In the Solar the curtains still need a pelmet adding accross the top to finish them off.

While pleating, I made the curtains for the bed.  There is a short curtain against the side wall just to cover over the fact that the fancy cornice/frieze doesn't continue along this wall, curtains at either side of the foot and one at the head end of the side.  I think it will look better with another drop at the foot end of the side as well.  I just hope I have enough fabric.  The fancy trim around the top of the bed was stained and finished at the same time as the rest of the bed with exactly the same colour and in pieces it all looked the same.  Put the trim in place and it suddenly becomes a completely different shade of brown.  Oh dear, another problem.  The only solution is to take it down and re paint it until it decides to be and remain the right colour.  (Oh, and Dan says I need to make proper bedsteps too).

There was progress in the Wardrobe as well with the addition of a rail around the top of the stairs and a new storage unit for the back wall.  The unit is as always mostly balsa wood with a few ready made turnings and accents.  The doors in the middle section open by pivoting on concealed pins.  Now I just need to decide whether to give it a wood look finish or a more colourful paint job.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Furniture Arranging and a Lucky Find

I've been playing around with possible furniture arrangements for the castle, mostly to see if adding furniture makes me like the fireplaces more.  The furniture I've used is a mix of items bought for the castle's renovation, items taken out of the old castle and stuff that was hanging about that was about the right size and shape.

I think the bedroom fireplace does look better with other furniture around it.

I'm having trouble in the Solar.  The postition of the fireplace, stairs, door to the Gallery and open balcony arch make positioning furniture awkward.  However, with furniture in the room, the fireplace doesn't look as dangerously close to the top of the stairs as it really is.

The Hall will have minimal furniture I think.  Perhaps the castle residents will be holding a dance, so will need all the floorspace?

Changing tracks completely, I found this house in a local shop this morning.  It cost $7.00 and is remarkably detailed for something designed to be a toy.

It's the right size for a 1/24th scale house, though the downstairs rooms are rather small.  The furniture in the house are 1/24th scale items I bought last year from fellow Blogger Linda.  Now they have a house to go into.   The foam it is made out of is quite rigid, though I'm worried it will warp if it gets damp (i.e. painted, glued).  So I need to run some tests and do some serious thinking.

So my to do list now includes finish Dawcrest Castle,then work on the Dig Site, the Georgian and now the 1/24th House.  I'm also waiting to see what this year's house kit for the DHE creative competition will be thinking that if I like it I could buy it as a birthday present to me. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hall-ing Away

Remember the castle's  Great Hall?  You probably don't it's been so very long since I've worked on it.  You see, all that floor space made great storage for lights and other unattached bits of the castle.  It has nothing what so ever to do with the fact I couldn't decide what colours to use and was not looking forward to painting the floor.  Absolutely nothing.  Whatever the cause of it's long neglect, it was time to put some serious effort into the Hall before it fell even further behind the rest of the castle.  The floor had already been tiled with air dry clay so the first task was to paint this.  After a couple of coats of white I spent an whole afternoon carefully painting every other tile in "oakmoss" green to create the checkerboard effect.  When I was happy that all the edges were straight, I added a coat of matte sealer.

 The upper walls had already been papered with a beige and white fabric, so all that remained was to make the panelling for the bottom part of the walls.  The  panelling is cardboard painted oakmoss green to match the floor trimmed with balsa wood strips painted white.  The main feature of the room is the fireplace/doorway unit.  This was made outside the castle from yet more balsa and cardboard and decorated with more of the wall fabric and some plaster frieze from Sue Cook Miniatures.  The firesurround is also a Sue Cook, though I picked it up on ebay some time ago.  The curtains that act as doors were from the original castle but tone in well with the new colour scheme.  The doors don't look so great without the curtains though:

 I will either try painting the illusion of another room in these spaces or print out photos of some of my other castles to act as backdrops.  Personally, I am totally in love with the green and white colour scheme in here and think it will be a great pity to add wooden furniture or even people in colourful clothes.  The one thing that currently isn't working for me is the Gallery above the Hall.  The deep colours up there make the Hall/Gallery combination look very top heavy.  I'm hoping that a white railing will even things out because I really want to keep the tudor frieze on the walls, even if the colours are now totally wrong for the castle.

 I also spent a little time working on fireplaces for the bedroom and solar.  The less said about these the better.  The bedroom fireplace is all right, but the colour is very, very wrong.

I'm not sure whether the colour looks so wrong because it is against bare white walls and will look better with furniture, wall hangings (etc) in the room or whether to just repaint now.

Meanwhile the Solar fireplace is way too close to the top of the stairs, but moving it messes up the panelling!

Do I keep them or change them?

In other news, this blog has reached 140 followers!  Although I have ceased to individually welcome each new follower, I am always thrilled to see my number of followers has increased and so glad that each of you wants to follow me.  For those of you who may be reading this who aren't following yet, there will be another giveaway when I reach 150 followers . . . .